The Bengals offensive line and a rookie running back take command of the AFC in powerful fashion today when Ickey Woods comes off the bench to maul the Jets' top-ranked AFC defense with 139 yards and two TDs on 30 carries in a 36-19 victory that shakes the conference's balance of power. The picture on the front page of Monday's Cincinnati Enquirer tells the story with wide receiver Tim McGee flashing six fingers to the lingering Riverfront Stadium crowd after the game to signify they have matched the Bengals' best start of 6-0 by the 1975 team. "The Shuffle," apparently comes later. The power is here now. "I've got to give all the credit to the offensive line," says Woods, a second-round pick from Nevada-Las Vegas who picks up 125 yards and three TDs as the short-yardage back in the first five games. "They were blowing them off the line. They were opening holes. You could drive a truck through those holes."
Quarterback Boomer Esiason hits just 10 of 20 passes, but he makes them count for 220 yards and that includes a 60-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eddie Brown when they're down 9-0. "Boomer is a star, man," says head coach Sam Wyche. "He's a football player." So is Woods. With James Brooks inactive with a broken hand, fullback Stanley Wilson going down with a bad back on the second series and Stanford Jennings also hurting his ankle on his second series, Woods betters his season output in one day. Perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Anthony Munoz isn't surprised. "To me he's right there. He's been at the bit to get the ball and today we let him loose."
Munoz's partner on the right side, Joe Walter, is starting to draw rave reviews himself as a guy that should join Munoz in Hawaii, After neutralizing future Hall-of-Famers Reggie White and Howie Long earlier in the year, Walter tees it up against Jets Pro Bowl sacker Mark Gastineau and frustrates him so much that Walter literally makes him sick. Gastineau blows off reporters by saying he caught a stomach virus some time Saturday night and before the game. Meanwhile, Bengals Pro Bowl right guard Max Montoya expounds on Walter's abilities. "Joe Walter is the prototype offensive lineman of the '80s," Montoya says. "He's got great strength, great quickness, great balance, and he's got those big old 48-inch arms to throw people around." Munoz, Montoya, Walter and the gang are the talk of the league. An athletic yet brute strong and huge offensive line schooled in innovative technique by one of the game's more respected gurus in position coach Jim McNally. "I was as high for Gastineau as I was for anyone all season," Walter says. "I think he was frustrated that he couldn't get to the quarterback. You could see it in his eyes the way he was looking around." Now everyone is watching the Bengals.